Taking Myself Out On A Date

I like to think of my creative practice, especially my writing as a lover. There are times when I need to fall back in love with my practice, my writing in particular. The muse might be acting shady or we might have just fallen out and not seen each other for a while. This is when I need to start dating my muse again.

In order to fall in love with my practice again, I need to start dating my muse again. I need to treat my muse like a lover and start putting dates in the diary. Make an effort to show up for my muse. Get dressed for an evening date. Spend time on my appearance. Put on my favourite perfume. Make my favourite drink and show up at the page. All part of the ruse to get my muse to show up and spend time with me again.

When I do this, start to treat my muse like a lover, I start to get excited about our time together. I look forward to meeting up, I enjoy the time we spend together and can’t wait until we meet again.

This is all part and parcel of attempting to keep me committed to my practice. To not allow anyone else or any other thing to come between me and my practice. As I need my creative practice like air. To be completely finished with my muse and my creative practice, to separate forever from my lover would be devastating to me, to my being.

So when I think or feel that I’m letting things slide, start taking things for granted and not even bothering to turn up at the page, I know it’s time to start paying special attention to my lover. To make the effort to show up and let them know that I do care for them. That I want to be with them. And that I love them and can’t do without them. I let them know how much joy they bring me. That I appreciate them and that I don’t want to be with them.

Treating my muse like a lover is not just a reminder to my muse that I care but it’s a wake up call to myself that I want them in my life. That I love them, my muse, my lover, my creative practice.

The Final 100 Days of Writing

My writing year hasn’t gone to plan.

At the back end of 2021, I put in for an Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice grant. I didn’t get one but I made a promise to myself to follow the project plan I had to submit with this application for the first 6 months of 2022.

Things just didn’t go to plan from the very beginning of the year, with family illness and myself getting ill etc. I was knocked off course and never got back on during the year.

Until now. London Writer’s Salon ran a 100 Days of Writing Workshop last night. Then there was 100 days left of 2022. Where has the time gone?

I attended along with over 300 other people, working through the workbook to get recommitted to my Mixmoir. And it worked.

I’ve set myself some goals and targets for the final 100 days of writing for 2022. I figure, I can turn it out for others when I have to or need to, the recent BALTIC commission being a prime example. Well now I want to use this commitment to others and their demands to my own advantage and complete something that is important to me instead.

My goal is to complete the Mixmoir in the final 100 days of 2022. I figure it’s about 3 essays and about 15 poems I need to get it into a completed state by the end of 2022. And I might even place in the word ‘shitty’ first draft of the whole thing there too in order to ease the pressure off for perfection.

My guiding words for this process are fun and play and experimentation. I want to enjoy the process and I figure these values with help me a lot with this task.

I’ve been wanting to write this Mixmoir now for about 5 years and I think I’ve just been taking it and myself far too seriously. So I’m inviting in the fun and joy and excitement about the project again.

And I’ve got the last 100 days of 2022 to crack on with it. And these final days of the year are not empty. I’ve got plenty of outside commitments, family responsibilities and travel plans to keep me busy. But this might be the kick up the arse I need to just finish the damn thing.

This Mixmoir is an important step in establishing myself as an expert in the field of Black Nature. I want to use this text as the basis of the Earth Sea Live CIC business. As a speaker and facilitator and expedition leader. But it’s doing nothing to further the cause if it’s not finished or published yet.

So here I am biting the bullet, getting my head down and ploughing on through.

No hold up! I said fun and play and experimentation in order to enjoy the process.

So my shoulders are back, my head is facing the light and I’m skipping off into writing pleasureland for the final 100 days of 2022.

Let’s see what I create.

Intrinsic – a new anthology of writing

It is with great delight that I share with you this forthcoming publication.

Late last year, I submitted a completed mixmoir essay to Eleanor Cheetham, at Creative Countryside. This was the end result of an application submitted on invitation by Eleanor last August.

Now, coming next month, through a successful Indigogo fund raising campaign, Intrinsic will be out in the world. And I’m overjoyed to see this project succeed. It’s been a while in the making, which isn’t a complaint as I am an advocate of ::SLOW:: but it was touch and go if this project was going to come to fruition due to finances. and that would have been a great shame and disservice if this beauty was lost to the world.

An anthology of 12 deep-rooted connections with the more-than-human world, this book is not like any other nature writing text out there. This anthology supports and uplifts the diverse voices which exist within this writing genre at the same time as expanding and redefining what nature writing can be.

I’m one of the twelve writers featured in this anthology. I took the time, and the much needed space, to explore something that I’ve been carrying around within my body and soul for a while; the link to the sea for my ancestors and me.

Seascape- Grief and Grievance and Healings is the title. It’s a narrative mixmoir piece rich in memories and hauntings, voices and references. I’m really proud of this baby and it was such a delightful process of creation throughout it all.

Please consider checking the anthology out, published by Creative Countryside and available to buy next month, July 2022.

It is in place that we locate ourselves

It is in place that we locate ourselves, mark ourselves in relation with others; it is  in place that we survive. – Meena Alexander  

Within my body, I carry the stories 

of my mother, grandmothers, 

sisters and aunts. My body carries 

their stories of love and loss;

wounds passed on through

bone and blood. Leaving scars, 

leaving diminished spirits.

But just as those stars are burning

bright right now, leaving their trails

of light, my body, my beautiful body

will survive, heal and fire. 

Cento for black birds pushing against glass*

Cento is a piece of writing, esp. a poem, composed wholly of quotations from the works of other authors. It like a patchwork quilt, a fabricated whole from scraps from other places, people and times.

May ZINE spread

For me I also see Cento pieces like collage, disparate fragments of texts, images, quotes, colours brought together, moved around to create something totally new and unique which pulls meaning from the parts in construction but together go beyond their initial meanings and purposes.

Alchemy comes to mind as well as conjure. Magic.

Is this Mixmoir a Cento? No as I’m using my own text and anyone else’s that appear within it are credited. But I think there is an element of Centoism within the text as I pull from my body of work for the past 6 or 7 years to construct it. Also the different genres of writing and art that are going into the mix to create the whole is Centoist in practice, maybe.

This is an example of a Cento I created recently, which I think will be included in the Mixmoir, eventually.

Cento for black birds pushing against glass*

The first breath comes from early morning blossom.

Rain falls short. Look. The unbuckling sky. Rain.

There’s an old pain. The memory of water keeps

flowing heavy with blood. Bloodhounds catch the scent.

Black bodies packed into boats and the tide still rolling in.

A corpse dangling from the end of a rope. Justice they say.

And they cut off parts for souvenirs. Within these city walls

there is no room for self-love. Grin, keeping grinning at the camera.

My heart catches on fire as it could easily be my story. My body.

Along blood lines, pumped into the centre of the wound

it’s the body that remembers as tonight this river will receive

the crushed burden like black morels under foot.

Pull the earth on top of her, turn her black face away from the light.

I can not. But they’ve got the centuries’ old tradition to fall back on;

the rich white man and the black woman kept close

in the big house always ready to be split.

*Cento composed of lines from my past poems which were partly composed of lines taken from various other creatives. The title is from Lucille Clifton, and other lines are borrowed from James Allen, Kara Walker, Tafisha Edwards, Ocean Vuong, Billie Holiday, Martha Collins, and Toi Derricotte. There also a nod towards the film Monster’s Ball.

The Art of Slow Writing

Collaborative anti-racism broadsides collaborative project with Theresa Easton

I started my Patreon Page in April 2018 with the focus on Slow Writing.

I stated:

The Art of Slow Writing

“When our lives change, when the world changes, we must reinvent ourselves as writers.” – Louise DeSalvo.

Taking inspiration from Louise DeSalvo’s book, The Art of Slow Writing, I’m choosing to create fine writing; writing of quality and writing of worth. I believe in order for this to happen, I need to find my way back to slow writing.

Slow writing is a meditative practice, creating time and space for understanding my relationship to my writing, the writing process and working towards my best work.

I envisioned it as the space where I wrote the memoir ( memoir then, Mixmoir now).

I said through a facelift of my Patreon Page that:

I’ve been writing a creative non-fiction memoir which includes personal essays, poetry, quotes, paintings, photography etc and this continues as this piece of creation centres the black woman’s body with/in nature. What I envision now is this piece taking on a more critical and political perspective with climate / environmental justice taking up space as this is my reality, our reality, even if there are systems in place which would lead us to believe otherwise.

Using my art is my resistance, is my activism and I just see it as time to start owning it. Blatantly so.

All that I’ve been wanting to achieve and working towards has morphed into one – this idea of black / brown bodies with/in nature. This is my full-time obsession and I’ve been making big changes in my personal life to reflect and accommodate this. This includes Patreon.

It was within this space that I created the term Mixmoir to describe what I’m trying to create. There, here, everywhere.

When you take on a project, a writing project that is arduous and long and messy, there’s a tendency to get lost along the way. Get tangled up in the details, get into your own head and manipulate your own weaknesses and doubts to the point of stop writing and just spending your time and energy just wishing.

I’ve got to the point of feeling sick and tired about feeling/acting/behaving this way. This inactivity within a writing project I feel so deeply about. Which is so vital to my being.

So this is me attempting to change the story and get the damn book complete on my own terms by any means necessary by glueing my arse down to the seat and just writing.

Welcome to my practice.

The Focus For June – Mixmoir

Mixmoir Day 1.

For the past few months, I’ve been managing to turn up here at this blog daily.

I’ve been sharing my obsessions and you’ve been following along. Thank you for sticking with me.

June cannot go by without me attempting to continue the tradition/ challenge/ focus. And I think this is going to be the toughest yet!

There’s some magical energy that comes along at the beginning of each new month that I’ve just got to dive into and ride the wave to where ever it may take me. It’s about surrendering to the process and trusting that it will not lead me astray.

So what is the focus for June. It’s Mixmoir Time.

What is ‘Mixmoir’? This is the new name I’ve come up with for my mixed-genre memoir which I’ve been trying to write now for 4 or 5 years, I think. And I am writing it. That’s no lie but sometimes I’m creating more words/pages/pieces than others. I allow fear and distractions and that sense of failure to get in the way of me showing up and completing the damn thing.

At the back end of 2021, I put in for an Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice grant to receive the time, space and money to complete this beast. As there has been no announcement of success here, you will know that I was not successful. Competition at this point for public funding is fierce. And to be honest, I’m not really sure if I was feeling the application.

Also with hindsight, now in June 2022, when this project was due to be complete, I’m pleased that I didn’t receive the funding because 2022 has been a year of tribulations so far. Knowing that I’d have to deliver on the completed manuscript at the end of this month would have been too much pressure with everything else that’s been happening. I actually feel grateful that I’ve had a flexible start to 2022, with me being more or less in control of how I’ve been spending my time. The bank balance might not be in agreement but there is much more to life than making money. Peace of mind, health, practicing ::SLOW:: and ::CARE:: have been taking priority and I’m not complaining.

So what to expect for the month ahead?

Well nothing is set in stone but expect extracts from the Mixmoir, reflections and musings on the practice of slow writing and the process of creating a mixed-genre creation. I’ll also be pulling a card a day while working with Mariëlle S. Smith, Fleshing Out The Narrative: A 31-Day Tarot and Journal Challenge for Writers. This is hoped tp give me some further focus not only on getting some words on the page but also to go behind the scenes and shed some insight on the reasons for writing this Mixmoir and why this form and what I hope to achieve through it’s completion.

The deck I’d be using to support this journey is The Earthcraft Oracle Deck by Juliet Diaz and Lorriane Anderson and illustrated by Daniell Boodoo-Fortune. This is such a beautiful deck with messages/ wisdom/ guidance which support my continuing connection with Mother Earth. And what better deck to use that this as isn’t the Mixmoir exploring my relationship with nature? It all makes perfect sense and will hopefully aid a fruitful and productive month of writings and musings and happenings.

I hope you with stick around and join me. #onwards.

“Femme Noire” de Léopold Sédar Senghor / “Black Woman” by Léopold Sédar Senghor

Léopold Sédar Senghor I would like to share with you this poem of the late president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor. This poem is an ode to the…

“Femme Noire” de Léopold Sédar Senghor / “Black Woman” by Léopold Sédar Senghor

I reblog this post African Heritage here as a marker. As a tag. As a note to follow up in conjunction with a project/commission I’m working on. All will become clear when I create a new project page within my portfolio.

But for now, enjoy this beautiful poem from Léopold Sédar Senghor, which speaks of the Black Woman which can also be read as the country, Senegal. Enjoy. More details coming soon.

Quotes are useful too

Visual journal 12/05

Sometimes I can’t find the words. Sometimes a smear of paint might be enough or an image to spark the imagination or to stand in for that void.

Other times a good quote is enough.

“Don’t let what they want eclipse what you need. They are very dreamy. But they’re not the sun. You are. You are the sun.” Christina Yang

Quality reminders through tough times, quotes can be just that.